The Pension Research Council sponsors research conferences on topics of timely interest to members. Topics span the range of private and public retirement programs around the world. Themes are suggested by the Advisory Board, and members have the opportunity to explore the social, economic, legal, actuarial, and financial implications of research developments for retirement security.
- The Disruptive Impact of FinTech on Retirement Systems [password required]
May 3 and 4, 2018
The 2018 PRC Symposium on The Disruptive Impact of FinTech on Retirement Systems explores how technological innovation is changing the retirement marketplace, insurance markets, and how plan sponsors help shape workers’ pension saving, investment, and decumulation plans.Academics, policymakers, and industry leaders discuss how these innovative and often disruptive developments are altering the retirement space. Conference participants include plan sponsors, benefits specialists, actuaries, academics, regulators, and others working to design resilient pensions for the next decades. The conference is by invitation only.
Past Conferences and Symposia
- Saving and Retirement in an Uncertain Financial Environment
May 4 and 5, 2017
The 2017 PRC Symposium on Saving and Retirement in an Uncertain Environment will explore how the weak performance of capital markets predicted over the next several years will shape pension saving, investment, and decumulation plans. Academics, policymakers, and industry leaders will debate alternative strategies to cope with these challenges globally, as economic growth remains slow and low returns become the ‘new normal.’ Conference participants will include plan sponsors, benefits specialists, actuaries, academics, regulators, and others working to design resilient pensions for the next decades. The conference is by invitation only.
- Retirement Security Symposium: Philadelphia’s Future Outlook: City-Based Options
October 19, 2016
City Controller Alan Butkovitz along with AARP and Wharton’s Pension Research Council hosted a Retirement Security Symposium to discuss Philadelphia’s future outlook. Local and national experts participated in several panels to identify issues and present policy options. Several plans that are currently being discussed around the country were highlighted at the event, including Secure Choice (Auto-IRA), Open Multiple Employer Plan, Retirement Marketplace and the promotion of Federal myRA. Featured guests included: Phyllis Borzi, Asst. Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Labor; Mark Iwry, Asst. Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Treasury; Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, CEO, Center for Retirement Initiatives; and many others. AARP University of Pennsylvania
- 2016 Symposium: Financial Decision Making and Retirement Security in an Aging World
May 5-6, 2016
By the end of the next decade, the number of older Americans will have grown rapidly, but half if not more of the elderly will suffer from cognitive deficits after the age of 80. Our 2016 Pension Research Council symposium will explore how financial decision-making changes at older ages, how and when financial advice can be useful for the older population, and what solutions and opportunities are needed to resolve the likely problems that will arise.
- 2015 Symposium: Implications of the New Regulatory Order for Retirement System Risk Management
April 30 – May 1, 2015
What do efforts to strengthen the world’s financial system portend for non-bank financial entities, including insurance companies and pension funds? High-level policymakers, academics, and practitioners will discuss topics pertinent to risk management and pension design for an aging planet. Recent regulatory, supervisory, governance, and financial market changes will increasingly drive the pensions and insurance agenda.
- 2014 Symposium: Reimagining Pensions: The Next 40 Years
May 1-2, 2014
Forty years after the passage of the US Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, confidence in retirement systems is shakier than ever. This event will examine opportunities and challenges for the future of retirement security, with speakers discussing the adequacy, efficiency, equity, and stability of our current retirement model. Participants will also propose options for policy reform and examine new pension provision models including in the international sphere. Conference attendees include academics, actuaries, plan sponsors, benefits specialists, policymakers, and others concerned about pension provision for the future.
- 2013 Symposium: Recreating Sustainable Retirement: Resilience, Solvency, and Tail Risk
April 25-26, 2013
The 2013 Pension Research Council Symposium at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania explores critical problems raised by the “known unknowns” as well as the “unknown unknowns” confronting retirement systems seeking to deliver old-age security to growing numbers of older persons. The research presented is intended to inform policymakers, academics, actuaries, plan sponsors, and benefits specialists, about longevity risk, capital market risk, model risk, regulator risk, and products and policies needed to manage these more effectively around the world. This analysis has important implications for the ways in which pension designers, fiduciaries, and policymakers should develop the future framework for addressing risk and sustainability within retirement models.
- 2012 Symposium: The Market for Retirement Financial Advice
May 3-4, 2012
Though many people use financial advisers, and many more would probably benefit from financial advice, relatively little is known about the marketplace for such advice. The 2012 Pension Research Council conference at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania offers cutting-edge research and commentary on key aspects of the advice marketplace, types of advice provided, fees and commissions, market and regulatory considerations, and how to evaluate advisers’ performance and impact. Also included is a roundtable discussion on fiduciary challenges for financial advisors. Conference attendees will include consultants and advisers, academics, actuaries, plan sponsors, benefits specialists, and policymakers. Co-hosted by Olivia S. Mitchell and Kent Smetters at the Wharton School.
- 2011 Symposium: Reshaping Retirement Security: Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis
May 5-6, 2011
The global financial crisis has prompted policymakers, plan sponsors, benefits specialists, academics, and actuaries to rethink retirement security for the 21st century. Our 2011 Pension Research Council conference at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania explored the impact of the crisis and its fallout on retirement systems, as well as ideas for new, more resilient, models in the United States and abroad. Discussion covered how the crisis has shaped retirement patterns and future retirement income flows, capital market opportunities, plan sponsor decisions, and regulator reactions to the crisis. This event provoked energetic discussion on what the crisis implies for retirement security, the pension marketplace, and the future of retirement system regulation.
- 2010 Symposium: Financial Literacy: Implications for Retirement Security and the Financial Marketplace
April 29-30, 2010
This event provoked an energetic discussion between researchers, policymakers, and practitioners on enhanced financial literacy and its relationship to retirement security, the financial marketplace, and how it relates to financial market regulation. The goal of the conference is to inform policymakers, academics, actuaries, plan sponsors, and benefits specialists about what has been learned, and what remains to be done, to take advantage of the ‘teachable moment’ resulting from the financial crisis. Conference attendees will include academics, actuaries, plan sponsors, benefits specialists, and policymakers, as well as others. The proposed research will be of substantial interest to the Wharton School, inasmuch as this analysis has important implications for the ways in which pension designers, fiduciaries, and policymakers should develop the future framework for financial education and retirement preparedness in public and private pension systems.
- 2009 Symposium: Reorienting Retirement Risk Management
April 30-May 1, 2009
This event provoked an energetic discussion between researchers, policymakers, and practitioners on ways to restructure pension accumulation and decumulation plans, so that they can incorporate the best elements central to the old defined benefit model while taking advantage of the best of the defined contribution world. These include the opportunity for mobile workers to have portable plans, for participants to access sophisticated money managers instead of relying on investment impulses, and for retirees to protect against longevity risk. These issues are of particular importance in the context of the global financial meltdown, where new pension models are much on the minds of policymakers.
- 2008 Symposium: The Future of Public Employee Retirement Systems
May 1-2, 2008
This event examined the challenges facing public retirement systems in the US and around the world. After tracing the evolution of public sector pensions and retiree health programs, the discussion compared public with private sector pay and benefits. Next the speakers took up public policy concerns regarding accounting and management in public employee plans in the United States, focusing on ways to properly measure liabilities and how to make the plans more cost effective. The discussion also included analysis of defined contribution versus defined benefit plans for the public sector, and funding of federal retirement systems, both civilian and military. International lessons were brought to bear with a dsicussion of reforms in the German, the Japanese, and the Canadian public employee plans. This conference was a Wharton Impact Conference sponsored by the Wharton School’s Pension Research Council and Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research.
- 2007 Symposium: Managing Retirement Payouts: Positioning, Investing, and Spending Assets
April 23-24, 2007
This event highlighted emerging issues regarding assets and expectations on the verge of retirement, including uncertainty regarding life expectancy and morbidity. Analysts explored retirement asset positioning and location, phasing of spending patterns, and debt as well as housing consumption in later life. Financial advisers and academics debated ways to effectively manage assets in retirement, including the role of advice engines and tax challenges. Lawyers and policy experts evaluated regulation for the retirement payout marketplace, along with long-term care insurance. The conference was co-hosted by John Ameriks and Olivia Mitchell at The Wharton School.
- 2006 Symposium: Transitioning to Retirement: How Will Boomers Fare?
April 24-25, 2006
Presenters at this conference drew on new microeconomic panel datasets including the Health and Retirement Study to evaluate how well Baby Boomers compare with prior cohorts, in terms of their preparedness for retirement. Papers examined financial, health, and social capital of Boomers on the verge of retirement, with similar measures of wellbeing or shortfalls for previous cohorts.
- 2005 Symposium: The Evolution of Risk and Reward Sharing in Retirement
Retirement systems unavoidably balance a variety of economic and political risks, including capital market and mortality shocks, firm bankruptcy risks, funding changes, and policy shifts. These are in turn reapportioned among various stakeholders. This conference analyzed how recent changes in risk and reward patterns are being shared among the parties to private and public retirement systems. Discussion assessed how these risk sharing arrangements are evolving and should continue to change in the future.
- 2004 Symposium: Reinventing the Retirement Paradigm
This symposium focused on pension policy and changes needed to support development of pensions in the coming years as we move toward the retirement of the baby boom cohort. Participants examined recent trends in retirement patterns and draw implications for the future of retirement. This symposium marked both the 30th Anniversary of ERISA and the 50th Anniversary of the Pension Research Council.
- Lessons from Pension Reform in the Americas
March 2-3, 2006
As policymakers debate Social Security reform, the range of pension reforms in the Americas offers many lessons. Chile’s pension reform is now in its twenty-fifth year, and other reforms in the region are at least a decade old. These reforms give researchers a substantial body of data to analyze in evaluating pension reforms in terms of efficiency and equity. At this conference, leading experts on pensions will present their research and discuss the lessons of pension reform in the Americas.